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PCRC Briefing Paper on West Papua
All who have witnessed Indonesia’s human rights violations against the West Papuan expression of self determination have applauded the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders expression of “deep concern” about the state of violence in West Papua. Forum leaders in Kiribati, October 2000, further called on the Indonesian government and the people of West Papua to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue and consultation. Leaders also urged all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents of West Papua, and welcomed closer dialogue with the Government of Indonesia on issues of common concern.
But what happens when the Indonesian Government as the decolonising power in West Papua continues to neglect her responsibility in initiating dialogue with the Papua Presidium Council, which is spearheading the self-determination process? What should be the role of the Pacific Island Forum in facilitating such a dialogue through the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation?
The Forum has added Indonesia on its list of dialogue partners, but since
the last Forum meeting in Kiribati, Indonesia has:
This is the same pattern of political and military backed violence, which developed in East Timor in the name of territorial integrity and national unity.
Furthermore Jakarta’s preoccupation with political power struggle resulting in new and unstable leadership every two years, has called into question Indonesia’s capability to manage political violence and killings in its various provinces.
According to Franzalbert Joku, the Papua Presidium Council International Moderator, “ irrespective of the power game unfolding in Jakarta, we remain unperturbed in our noble resolve to pursue every conceivable endeavour to reclaim our homeland and free our people from foreign domination, misery and annihilation. No amount of persuasion or intimidation will sway us from our conviction that ours is a genuine and legitimate cause. We are seeking what is rightfully ours and we will not rest until that mission is fully accomplished one way or the other”.
This is the aspiration of the Papuans who have struggled and survived the tides of history and waves of oppression under successive Indonesian military regimes since the 1960s. The Second Papuan People’s Congress held in May 2000 stressed that West Papua has been independent since December 1961 and that the subsequent Indonesian takeover was illegal. They are prepared to continue paying the price of freedom with their innocent lives if the United Nations and their Pacific neighbours do not wake up to face the reality of gross-violation of human rights on their doorstep at the dawn of the new millennium.
In view of negligence and human rights violations on the part of Indonesia as the administering authority, consideration should be given to re-inscribing West Papua on the UN List of Non-Self-Governing Territories for the UN Committee on Decolonisation to facilitate the decolonising process. This would require coordinating dialogue between Indonesia as the administering power and the Papua Presidium Council on a decolonisation agenda towards self-determination.
The United Nations should be urged to send, as a matter of urgency, a Fact Finding Mission to investigate Human Rights violations in West Papua, including an observer group to monitor the trials of West Papuan leaders currently under way.
This Briefing Paper is a reminder that as in the case of Vanuatu and the Kanak people of New Caledonia, the Forum had set a precedent in facilitating dialogue when the administering powers neglected their responsibilities in mapping out the political and constitutional agenda towards self determination.
PCRC urges Forum leaders to take a step further and come up with a concrete political directive to facilitate dialogue and discussions at the United Nations and other international fora on the political calendar towards West Papua self determination.
PCRC Backgroung Briefing Paper, July 2001
This paper highlights the responsibility of Indonesia being the administrative authority; the mandate of the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation; and the major happenings in West Papua since the Forum decided to “take into account the West Papua issue”. A brief history of what has transpired since the Papua Congress 2000 decision to change the strategy and move towards peaceful resolution of the long-standing conflict is also annexed.
I. Responsibility of Indonesia as the administering Power
The decolonisation of West Papua is the responsibility of Indonesia as the administering power, and the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation. They are mandated to develop a constructive programme on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. But what happens when West Papua is not listed on the UN list for non-self-governing territories?
In the case of West Papua evidence shows that Indonesia colonised the country with the help of the United Nations and the Netherlands against the wishes of the West Papua people. Today these colonizing authorities must be held responsible to initiate the decolonising process.
How can the United Nations turn a blind eye on political human rights violations that are intentionally committed against the Papuan people because of their continued wishes to be free from Indonesian? Where does the Universal Declaration on Human Rights apply? What is the role of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation when violations against humanity continue, but the administering power and their allies do not allow discussions on West Papua? How can the Pacific Island Forum assist in creating an environment for meaningful discussion to end colonialism and human atrocities in West Papua? The answer lies in the re-inscription of West Papua onto the list of non-self governing territories.
The mandate of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples was established by the UN General Assembly resolution in 1961.
The Special Committee also known as the Committee of 24 can only deal with colonial countries and peoples that are listed on the United Nations list as non-self-governing territories.
This is the process that Vanuatu, East Timor, Guam and New Caledonia went through to be accorded discussions at regional, international and United Nations meetings. It is important that the same process applies to West Papua so that West Papua issues can be included in the agenda of United Nations regional and international meetings.
The UN Special Committee on Decolonisation can only become a constructive instrument to West Papua if West Papua is listed on the UN list of non-self-governing territories. This is why it is so important for the Pacific Island Forum to come up with a political statement, which will generate discussions at the UN to initiate discussion on the re-inscription process at the United Nations. This means the responsibility of dealing with West Papua is given to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation, which is a body mandated to deal with decolonisation issues. Once West Papua is listed the Special Committee can monitor the situation and report to the UN every year on the decolonising progress.
In 1988 the UNGA Resolution 43/47 declared the period 1990 2000 as the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism and adopted a plan of action in Resolution 46/181 in December 1991. This plan will only apply to West Papua if West Papua is listed on the UN list as a non-self-governing territory.
By 1999 UNGA noted with concern that the plan of action for the implementation of the Declaration could not be concluded by 2000. The UNGA Resolution 55/146 dated 8 December 2000 states,
“Guided by the fundamental and universal principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, declared the period 2001-2010 the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism”,
“Calls upon Member States to redouble their efforts to implement the plan of action…and the administering Powers to cooperate fully with the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples to develop a constructive programme of work on a case-by-case basis for the Non-Self-Governing Territories to facilitate the mandate of the Special Committee and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations on decolonisation including resolutions on specific territories…” (Copy of UN General Assembly Resolution 54/146 attached)
In the UN document A/55/23 (Part 1) 7. the implementation plan of the Declaration contained the following provisions:
“22. The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Territories and Peoples with the cooperation of the administering powers should: a) Prepare periodic analyses of the progress and extent of the implementation of the Declaration.. .. ; b) Review the impact of the economic and social situation on the constitutional and political advancement of Non-Self-Governing Territories;”
“23. The Special Committee should seek as a matter of priority, the full cooperation of administering Powers with regard to the dispatch of United Nations visiting missions to Non-Self-Governing Territories.”
“24 The Special Committee, with the cooperation of the administering Powers, should make every effort to facilitate and encourage the participation of representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories in regional and international organizations, as well as in the specialised agencies of the United Nations system, the Special Committee itself and other United Nations decolonisation bodies.”
“8. Request the Special Committee to continue to seek suitable means for the immediate and full implementation of the Declaration…including the programme of work envisaged for 2000; “(a) To formulate specific proposals to bring about an end to colonialism and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session; (b) To continue to examine the implementation by Member States of the Resolution 1514 (XV) and other relevant resolutions on decolonisation."
In the past, the Forum has been called upon by independence movements to deliberate on the independence issue of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The Forum came up with political directives requesting the UN to re-inscribe Vanuatu and New Caledonia on the UN list of non-self-governing territories. The Forum position served as important instruments for the work of the Special Committee on Decolonisation and the United Nations as a whole. Without the Forum support both Vanuatu and New Caledonia would not for have progressed as quickly to where they are today.
Having followed closely the developments in Pacific non-self-governing territories it is obvious that the process for the implementation of the plan of action for the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism needs political commitment and guidance.
In the Pacific this process seems to have been hijacked to suit the interest of the colonial administering powers at the expense and sacrifice of the colonised peoples. There is clear evidence that the administering powers have refused to grant self-determination to the colonised peoples in the Pacific and are pursuing every avenue to prevent any official dialogue on the decolonising process, and the agenda for the granting of independence to colonial territories.
The UN Seminar on Decolonisation held in Vanuatu in 1990 had called on the colonial administering powers in the Pacific to ensure that the process of decolonisation in the Pacific is appropriately addressed and completed by the year 2000.
Since then, the Special Committee has not developed concrete proposals to achieve the goal of the decade of eradication of colonialism and granting of independence to territories by 2000. The UN decolonisation seminars seems more of a routine report back to the UN General Assembly, but deliberately avoiding the full implementation of the plan to eradicate colonialism in the Pacific.
In the Pacific it is obvious that the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea have allowed themselves to be used by Indonesia for its own interest. These interests have hindered the Pacific Islands Forum and the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation to carry out their roles on West Papua.
In the last decade, Papua New Guinea has chaired the Committee of 24 until the term expired in 2000. The New York based SOPAC group’s proposal for Nauru to take up vice chairmanship in the new term was opposed by Australia in preference for a close ally, Papua New Guinea.
The Special Committee seems to be acting more on behalf of the interest of the colonising powers and their allies and not consistent with the growing aspiration for independence in West Papua, Kanaky, Te Ao Maohi (French Polynesia), Bougainville, Guam and Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
Should the Pacific especially Forum members governments allow such manipulation to continue after having witnessed bloodshed in East Timor, Bougainville and West Papua? Do we want to prevent the resumption of violent uprising in French Polynesia (1995) and New Caledonia (1980s)? What should be the role of the Forum?
While the Forum deliberates, everyday, right next door to us in West Papua, someone is suffering atrocity in the struggle for independence.
Following orders issued by Jakarta to Indonesian forces in West Papua late last year to shoot armed separatists if necessary, a crackdown on indigenous supporters of the independence movement, has claimed many lives, including civilians. Pro-independence spokesmen, such as the leader of the Papua Presidium Council, Theys Eluay, have been jailed on charges of subversion.
The enforcement of a ban on raising the "Morning Star" (a flag symbolising Papuan independence) imposed in December 2000 led to a number of clashes between pro-independence supporters and the security forces late last year. These resulted in serious human rights violations, including unlawful killings, torture and arbitrary detentions.
And the list goes on.
The violent conflict in West Papua has claimed too many lives. And no one would wish to see in West Papua the human tragedy that East Timor experienced in 1999 in the hands of pro-Indonesia militias.
Again, PCRC calls upon the Pacific islands community to give West Papua high priority on the agenda of regional organizations, such as the Pacific Conference of Churches, the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru in August 2001.
Pacific Leaders and governments have a duty towards the people of West Papua. As such they must ensure that the question of West Papua is also advocated in international forum, especially the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation and the United Nations Commission of Human Rights.
While Leaders and governments of the Pacific are still “taking into account the West Papua issue/question of independence”, support for West Papua is growing among the international community, especially spearheaded by non-government organizations. Also prominent bodies like the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the European Union have reacted to the plight of West Papuans and expressed concern over the state of violence in the Indonesian-occupied territory.
The Pacific Conference of Churches
After years of avoiding the issue of self-determination for West Papua, the World Council of Churches decided at its 8th Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, to send an ecumenical delegation to West Papua in early 1999. Since then WCC member churches have also voiced concern over the issue of West Papua.
Following a Pacific Workshop on “Peoples’ Struggle for Land and Identity” in September 2000, Suva, the Pacific Council of Churches stated that:
· The churches in the Pacific and PCC be requested to continue to support the struggle of the People of West Papua, and to lobby their respective Governments for support for their call for self-determination, and to include West Papua on the list of the Committee of 24 on Decolonisation.
· That the Churches in the Pacific and PCC request WCC to liaise with the UN Commission on Human Rights to appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate human rights abuses in West Papua, including the mass killing of almost 1 million people over the last 37 years.
· That PCC be requested to take the Programme of West Papua as a priority in its annual programme.
Australian Council for Trade Unions (ACTU)
The ACTU has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Papuan Independence movement, in an attempt to pressure the Indonesian Government into granting the troubled region its independence. The agreement was signed between the ACTU and the movement's Melbourne-based West Papuan Leader, Dr Jacob Rumbiak, who was in Adelaide recently to launch the South Australia (SA) chapter of the West Papuan Solidarity Association.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Australia Council of Trade Unions calls for an independence referendum in West Papua, along the line of that held by the United Nations (UN) for East Timor in 1999.
The European Union
The European Union has “expressed concern” and urged Indonesia to "resolve peacefully" its many internal conflicts. In a statement the EU foreign ministers also called for closer European ties with Indonesia.
It urged Jakarta to press ahead with "governance reform" and strengthening democracy and human rights, saying that the rule of law and democratic accountability by the police and army were "crucial" for stability.
The EU also said it encouraged the government to make further urgent efforts to address and resolve peacefully Indonesia's internal conflicts, whether separatist or sectarian in character, such as those in Aceh, Irian Jaya and Central Kalimantan. It urged Jakarta to improve relations with East Timor, while recalling its responsibility to prosecute those who have violated human rights and international humanitarian law.
The New Zealand Government
The New Zealand government also promised to help the Irian Jaya regional government empower the local community. This was raised by Dr Timothy Hannah, who led the team sent by the New Zealand government to Irian Jaya. The team met with the deputy head of Irian Jaya Bappeda Regional Development Planning Agency, in Jayapura.
The United States Congress
Following findings of human rights violations in West Papua and supporting documentation from the US Department of State and other reliable sources that Indonesian military and police forces have committed widespread acts of torture, rape, disappearance and extra-judicial executions against West Papuans, the US Congress:
· Calls on the Department of State to support and encourage the Government of Indonesia to engage in peaceful dialogue with respected West Papuan community leaders and other members of West Papuan civil society, as prescribed by the 1999 Terms of Reference for the National Dialogue on Irian Jaya, and to urge the Governor of West Papua to create an environment conducive to the peaceful repatriation of West Papuan refugees and `illegal border crossers' who now reside in Papua New Guinea.
· Calls upon the United States Government to press the Government of Indonesia to permit access to West Papua and Aceh, including the project areas of the United States-owned Freeport mine and Exxon-Mobil facilities, by independent human rights and environmental monitors, including the United Nations special rapporteurs on torture and extra-judicial execution, as well as by humanitarian nongovernmental organizations;
· Calls upon the United States Government to press for the withdrawal of no organic troops from West Papua and Aceh, and an overall reduction of force numbers in those areas, particularly along the PNG border;
· Calls upon the Government of Indonesia to devote official attention, in an atmosphere of openness and transparency and oversight, to investigations into the numerous cases of disappearances, extra judicial killings, and other serious human rights violations in West Papua, Aceh, Maluku, Central Kalimantan, elsewhere in Indonesia, and occupied East Timor ;and
· Calls upon the United States Government to continue to insist upon vigorous investigation into all such violations, and upon trials according to international standards for military and police officers, militia leaders, and others accused of such violations.
The Irish Parliament
Early in 2001 the Irish Parliament set up a parliamentary committee to investigate human rights violation in West Papua.
During the year 2000, two important meetings were held which brought together West Papuan representatives from around the country and exiled communities in Europe, Australia and the Pacific. The first West Papua congress held between 23 - 26 February 2000 rejected the outcome of the 1969 Act of Free Choice. The four-day meeting known as Musyawarah Besar Papua 2000 (Mubes) was attended by over 200 supporters in Sentani, Port Numbay (Jayapura) and ran peacefully under the watchful eyes of local security personnel from the Satgas Papua.
An important communiqué was released and signed on behalf of the Assembly by Theys Hiyo Eluay, Tom Beanal and representatives coming from the districts, representing political prisoners and overseas delegates from Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. The statement stresses the consensus of the meeting:
· “that it is our desire to choose freedom and to separate from the Republic of Indonesia, as was conveyed by the Papuan people to President Habibie and members of his reformation cabinet on 26 February 1999 at the presidential palace.
· “that we shall pursue dialogue and peaceful and democratic ways to realise the wishes of the West Papuan people in order to secure the agreement of the Indonesian government.”
The Congress participants decided to set up Papuan Presidium Council, which was asked to prepare for a bigger Congress in May. The Presidium comprises tribal, women, youth and student leaders as well as local scholars and foreign delegations. The Congress elected Theys Eluay and Tom Beanal as chief executives of the Papuan Presidium Council, with Herman Awom (religion) Benny Giyai (professions) and Franz Albert Joku (tradition) as moderators. The 18-member Presidium includes representatives of churches, women, customary landowners, former political prisoners, students, youth and the professions.
The Second Papua Peoples Congress, which followed in May-June 2000, attracted between 3000-4000 delegates from throughout West Papua and abroad. The Congress ended with a resolution that also declared the results of the 1969 Act of Free Choice invalid.
The second Papuan Congress has elected an expanded Presidium of 31 members, still headed by Theys Eluay and Tom Beanal. Representatives in Europe, Asia and the Pacific have been elected to carry information about the Congress resolutions to the international community.
Pro-independence activists say organising a popular Congress inside West Papua is a strong political statement, which reaffirms that Papuans reject forced integration with Indonesia and question the illegal hand-over of their sovereignty.
The National Congress stressed that West Papua has been independent since December 1961 and that the subsequent Indonesian take-over was illegal. Congress leader Theys Eluay stated that the West Papuan movement wants to proceed peacefully towards independence. “We want to succeed through dialogue and negotiation. We are determined not to resort to violence”.
Following the results of the Papuan congress, the militarisation of the territory reached possibly unprecedented levels. The military organised, armed and trained East Timor-style militia numbering to perhaps 10,000, as thousands of troops ñ some say a total of 80,000 ñ were amassed in the territory. At one point 37 warships circled West Papua and thousands of firearms were smuggled-in illegally presumably to be distributed to the newly formed militia.
Since its illegal take-over of West Papua in 1963, legitimised by the UN- sponsored “Act of Free Choice” plebiscite of 1969, Indonesia has consistently pursued a policy of denigration of the indigenous peoples of West Papua.
Successive governments and military regimes have systematically ignored the plight of the Papuan people, though attempts are now being made to redress decades of mistreatment.
Since coming to power in October 1999, the new Indonesian Government of President Abdurrahman Wahid has increased development aid, started to investigate human rights abuses and released some West Papuan political prisoners. In December 1999, President Wahid visited Jayapura, and announced the change of name for the province from “Irian Jaya” to “Papua”, an acknowledgment of the crisis and West Papuan nationalist sentiment. He also agreed to establish a human rights commission to investigate long-standing human rights abuses conducted by the Indonesian Army and Police.
The Trikora Military Command and Police Commander of Papua estimated that about 7,000 non-structural soldiers are in Papua, and 1,084 personnel from the Police Elite Mobile Brigade Unit. According to ELSHAM estimates, since the last MPR General Assembly in August 2000, at which accusations were made of a so-called 'separatist movement' in Papua, between 15,000 and 20,000 additional troops have been deployed.
The above-mentioned provides grounds for serious concern because of the continuing death toll in Papua at the hands of security forces.
· Special Autonomy Bill for West Papua
While tension remains high in Papua, the Indonesian authorities are pushing ahead with the introduction of a "special autonomy" package for the region.
The question of special autonomy law for the easternmost province has been bogged down by the presence of two bills.
The House of Representatives' consultative body agreed to put forward a controversial special autonomy bill for West Papua proposed by Papuan legislators, but at the same time acknowledged that the government's own bill on the subject would remain the primary reference of deliberation.
The two bills differ in the approach of special autonomy, with the one proposed by the government being more austere in the granting of special autonomous powers.
The substance of the other bill prepared by the Papuan members of the legislature is open to change in line with the principle of the unitary state and the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia.
The Jakarta Post reported on 20 June that the government and the House of Representatives agreed to speed up the deliberation of the bills on special autonomy for Aceh and Irian Jaya, in order to help abate escalating tension in the two provinces. The option for special autonomy in the two provinces should have been implemented on 1 May, as stipulated in People's Consultative Assembly Decree No. IV/2000, but the deadline could not be met.
Historically, culturally and geographically, West Papua has always been part of Melanesia and the wider Pacific community. But, as in many Pacific countries, the people of West Papua have been separated from other Pacific islanders by colonial lines drawn on the map. West Papua has been under Indonesian rule since the 1962 New York Agreement and the 1969 Act of Free Choice. For many years, Indonesia has regarded the western half of the island of New Guinea as the province of Irian Jaya for the West Papuan nationalist movement, the Indonesian takeover in the 1960s has not ended their right to self-determination
Since the Pacific Islands Forum statement on the West Papua in Kiribati, and the acceptance of Indonesia as a post-Forum dialogue partner, the Papua Presidium Council is lobbying Forum countries to gain observer status at the up-coming summit in Nauru in August 2001.
The Nauru Forum Summit is critical for West Papua, as it will indicate the capacity of Pacific governments and leaders to address a regional issue that has long been evaded.
The West Papua issue has gained considerable support among Pacific countries and leaders and will certainly be a haunting issue for those who wish not to discuss it.
According to the Papua Council they expect sympathetic countries that have expressed support for Papuan independence to bring up the issue for discussions. It is also expected that those, like Australia and Papua New Guinea, who have always avoided the real issue will lobby hard to write it off the agenda.
In particular, the Papua Presidium Council is hopeful that the Forum might be persuaded to recognize West Papuan peoples right to self-determination by supporting resolutions calling on:
· The United Nations to re-inscribe West Papua on the UN List of Non-Self Governing Territories;
· The United Nations to send, as a matter of urgency, a Fact Finding Mission to investigate Human Rights violations in West Papua, including an observer group to monitor the trials of West Papuan leaders currently under way.
· The United Nations, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Indonesia to re-examine their respective roles in the various international processes that led to the annexation of West Papua by Indonesia and the fraudulent “Act of Free Choice” in 1969;
While the Forum deliberates, everyday, right next door to us in West Papua, someone is suffering atrocity in the struggle for independence.
On behalf of the many innocent victims of West Papua, the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) makes a strong appeal to Forum Leaders, in a true spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood to face the reality of everyday life in West Papua. The thirty-second Pacific Island Forum can make a difference by taking the same path as those applied to the request of Vanuatu and the Kanaks of New Caledonia.